MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia public higher education institutions contribute large numbers of graduates to the state work force, according to the report, "From Higher Education to Work in West Virginia 2006," released recently by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.

Graduates of West Virginia state public higher education during the last decade accounted for 7 percent of state jobs covered by unemployment insurance and $1.56 billion in wages in 2006, according to George Hammond, associate director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and lead author of the report.

Of the 106,583 state public higher education graduates during the past decade, 49,436 earned wages in West Virginia during 2006.

"That means that 46.4 percent of West Virginia higher education graduates during the

1995-96 to 2004-05 period were on the payrolls of state establishments for at least one quarter of the year," Hammond said.

Graduates with associate degrees had the highest West Virginia work participation rates, followed by graduates with master's degrees, first professional degrees, bachelor's degrees and doctoral degrees.

Adjusted for part-year work, annualized wages for state graduates were $36,954 in 2006. For graduates during the last decade, annualized wages in 2006 were highest for those with first professional degrees ($88,947), followed by those with doctoral degrees ($59,824), master's degrees ($45,648), bachelor's degrees ($32,477) and associate degrees ($30,494).

"This study marks the first in our series of reports that examines the impact of our higher education system on the state's economy," said Brian Noland, HEPC chancellor. "The results demonstrate the clear return of investing in higher education for both the students and the state."

The data analyzed in the report were provided by the HEPC and cover graduates from state public institutions of higher education during the academic years from 1995-96 to 2004-05. Information on graduates is matched by Workforce West Virginia with data on employment and wages covered under the state unemployment compensation system. The employment data is well known to be of high quality, but it does not include all individuals working in a state at a given time. For instance, the data set excludes the self-employed and other workers not covered by state unemployment compensation (i.e., railroad workers and federal government employees).

Highlights of the report include:

Work participation

* Of the 106,583 state public higher education graduates during the last decade, 49,436 earned wages in West Virginia during 2006. Thus, 46.4 percent of West Virginia higher education graduates during the 1995-96 to 2004-05 period were on the payrolls of state establishments for at least one quarter of the year.

* Work participation in the state also varies by degree earned. Graduates with associate degrees posted the highest work participation rate, with 64.2 percent of these graduates working in the state in 2006. Graduates with master's degrees posted a work participation rate of 49.2 percent, followed by those with first professional degrees (44 percent), bachelor's degrees (41.1 percent) and doctoral degrees (23.8 percent).

* In 2006, 94.3 percent of graduates who were on the payrolls of state establishments were classified as in-state residents for fee purposes. Those classified as out-of-state accounted for 4 percent of graduates on the payrolls in 2006.

Wages

* Graduates during the past decade from state public institutions of higher education earned $1.56 billion in wages at establishments in West Virginia in 2006. That accounts for 6.8 percent of the $23.1 billion in wages paid to all workers on the payrolls of state firms covered by unemployment compensation.

* Adjusted for part-year work, annualized wages for state graduates were $36,954 in 2006. West Virginia higher education graduates working full time in 2006 averaged $41,779.

* For graduates during the last decade, annualized wages in 2006 were highest for those with first professional degrees ($88,947), followed by those with doctoral degrees ($59,824), master's degrees ($45,648), bachelor's degrees ($32,477) and associate degrees ($30,494).

* West Virginia associate and bachelor's degree graduates earn approximately the same average annualized wages (ranging from mid-$20,000 to mid-$30,000) during the first six years following graduation. However, after the sixth year, graduates with bachelor's degrees do significantly better, earning an average of $6,330 more than associate degree graduates during the 1995-96 academic year.

The full report is available at www.wvhepc.org and http://www.bber.wvu.edu.

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